The rapid growth of social media presents an array of ever-expanding opportunities to both consumers and marketers alike. But how does this apply to the relationships consumers want with their bank?
By Joel Vaslow, Ph.D., Chief Operating Officer, The MSR Group
To answer this question, The MSR Group examined the social media habits of consumers, asking which companies they follow on social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Roughly one in four respondents said yes, they do. However, consumer interest in following banks was much lower, with only only about one in every 30 indicating they had ever followed their primary financial institution.
This lack of interest is notable given the makeup of the survey’s participants. Respondents had used at least one banking channel — branch, online, drive-up, online, in-store, ATM, call center, mobile — within two weeks of taking the survey.
When gauging future interest, only 2% of online banking customers said they were very likely to start following their bank.
These results are really not surprising, considering social media habits in the first place. The IBM Institute for Business Value surveyed more than 1,000 consumers worldwide along with 350 business executives to compare perceptions of how consumers interact with companies via social media. Consumers overwhelmingly go to social media or networking sites to connect with friends and family.
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However, when they do interact with brands, the top reason is “getting discounts or coupons” followed by “purchasing products and services”. While bank websites may include product promotions and online loan applications, it’s difficult to translate this into social media and these strategies are more applicable to retailers.
Interestingly, the businesses in the survey demonstrated a major disconnect with the consumer responses when asked to rate the reasons they think consumers follow their company on social media sites. For example, 64% of businesses indicated consumers follow them on social media to be part of a community but this is true for only 22% of consumers. Businesses also overestimate consumers’ desire to engage with them to feel connected to their brand. In fact, these two activities are among the least interesting to consumers in the study.
If a social media presence is part of your strategic plan, be sure to know what customers need, what they want and what they expect, and why they should interact with you in social channels.
Joel Vaslow is Chief Operating Officer at The MSR Group, a full-service market research company specializing in customer satisfaction measurement, brand awareness, and advertising and creative testing. Joel loves the challenge of integrating consumer feedback and business metrics, ultimately building strategies that drive clients’ ROI.
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